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By Mark Schaefer
Entertainment Editor
West Virginia University Newspaper Circa 1982

While he was at WVU, Mark Riccardi couldn't beat out football players Dutch Hoffman and Oliver Luck for the number one quarterback spot, so now that he's out in the "real world," he's letting the world beat him -- literally!

Riccardi, a student in the college of arts and sciences and a third-string quarterback during his tenure at the University, is trying to make a go of it as a stuntman in Hollywood. Tomorrow at 8 pm he will be appearing in his most important role to date -- Tripaloni in The Greatest American Hero. He will be punched by Robert Culp, jump into a moving car, and drive a car that blows up.

"The exploding car was specially-designed by the special effects crew," Riccardi said. "I was in a plexi-glass cage in the car and pushed a button myself when I was ready to blow up. I only suffered a small concussion in the accident. I was just getting warmed up, too!"

Before coming to the University, Riccardi spent two years at Potomac State College where he was an All-East junior college quarterback. "Being a third-string quarterback at WVU for three years spelled S-T-U-N-T-M-A-N," he said. "All the punishment I took playing on the scout squad against the first string defense made me think, 'hell, I might as well as get paid for taking this beating!' So, I am."

He made his Hollywood debut two years ago in a show called The Great American Traffic Jam. It was a show he won't soon forget. "I was driving on the freeway in a motorcycle," he said, "and all of a sudden a truckload of oranges fell all over the place. Trying to avoid a wreck, I went over an embankment and into a lake. It was pretty hairy, but after a couple of run-throughs, the scene went like clockwork."

Riccardi has TV shows Quincy, The Hulk, Ten Speed and Brown Shoe, Today's FBI, and Strike Force to his credit in addition to his appearance on Greatest American Hero tomorrow night. He's also worked on the movies The Blue and the Grey, Stripes and Eye for an Eye.

"With Chuck Norris in Eye for and Eye, I was really bruised," Riccardi said. "I was beaten, shot, and kicked unmercifully. The movie turned out to be one of Chuck's best, and he gives the credit to his stuntmen."

And what will it take for him to make it to the top? "My football background has really given me an edge in the business, but you have to keep pushing. It's like being alone in the middle of the ocean. You have to keep swimming because nobody's going to swim for you.

"The discipline, training and drive they teach you in football has been paying off in my career so far. It's like that third-string quarterback striving to be number one. I know that feeling and this time I'm going to make it. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the way up."


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